Farm Stand Foodies Unite!

I am not one of those bumper sticker people BUT if I were, it sure wouldn’t say anything about my children beating up honor students or make a political statement about saving the sloth (too late, I already married it) or even announce my trip to Wall Drugs and Pikes Peak 32 years ago. No, my bumper sticker would say, I stop AND buy at all farm stands.

            This is the time of year that I can’t go more than a couple of miles in any direction of my Fort Wayne home without seeing signs for FRESH CORN, or JUST PICKED TOMATOES, or even, PEPPERS, PEPPERS, PEPPERS. Being blessed with an abundance of enterprising farmers and the need to eat fresh produce the day it’s been picked has made the past few weeks hell on my brakes but heaven in my kitchen.

            My order is usually a dozen ears of corn and 4 or 5 peppers and a pound or two of green beans and 9 tomatoes and 3 melons and 5 pounds of onions and 8 cucumbers and whatever else catches my eye. I have one goal in mind (besides spending all my money). Creating recipes that capture the essence of the FRESH veggie and doesn’t overwhelm it with sauce or herbs or even too much salt or pepper.  The following recipes are perfect examples of what you can create with nature’s summer bounty and what fresh truly tastes like.

CRISPY GREEN BEANS IN GARLIC SAUCE

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. fresh green beans, ends removed

1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

Dash red pepper flakes

1/2 cup cracker crumbs

2 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

In a saucepan, bring 5 cups water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt. Add green beans. Parboil for 4 to 5 minutes, until just tender. Immediately dump them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Remove after 30 seconds and drain. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and mushrooms until they are just soft. Add the beans, parsley, butter or margarine and oregano. Toss with cracker crumbs and serve. Can be served hot or cold. Serves 6 to 8

Option: you can add 1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon or 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese if you like or omit the bread crumbs and add the juice of 1 lemon.

TOMATO TART

1 unbaked piecrust

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)

4    roma or small regular tomatoes

3/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

 Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 450. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and let it drain on paper towels. Unfold the piecrust according to package directions. Line a 9-inch tart pan with pastry (it’s easier to remove the baked tart if pan has a removable bottom). Press the pastry into the fluted sides of the tart pan and trim the edges. Don’t prick. Partially bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until pastry is slightly dry.  Remove the crust from the oven and immediately sprinkle 1/2 cup of mozzarella on the bottom. Let the crust cool and reduce oven to 375. Arrange the tomato wedges over the melted cheese in the crust.

In the bowl of a food processor combine the basil and garlic and pulse for 15 seconds, don’t let it get too mushy. In a bowl, combine the garlic mixture, remaining mozzarella, mayonnaise, Parmesan and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly over tomato wedges.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Makes 8 appetizer or 4 entree servings.

Modified from about.com

ONION SALAD DRESSING

Great on a spinach salad and it can be served hot or cold.

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Dash dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

1 minced onion

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup rice wine or apple cider vinegar

In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, mustard and celery seed. Add grated onion, oil, and vinegar. Heat until sugar is melted. Serve warm or let cool and refrigerate to use later. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

 ASIAN GREEN BEAN SALAD

Dressing

3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/3 cup oil

Salad

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 pounds green beans, trimmed

2 green onions, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons)

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegars, soy sauce, garlic, ginger root, and sesame oil. Add canola or vegetable oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper. In a small dry skillet toast sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until golden and transfer to a small bowl. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook beans until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer beans to a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain beans well. In a large bowl, combine beans, scallions, sesame seeds, and dressing and toss well. Serve salad chilled or at room temperature. Serves 4

Gourmet April 1995

TOMATO CORN AND PEPPER JACK PASTA SALAD

2 to 3 cups cooked penne or bow tie pasta

About 3-4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 to 1-1/2 cups of cubed pepper jack cheese

3 or 4 cups of grilled or fresh corn cut off the ear

4 green onions, sliced thin

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

zest and juice of 1 large lemon

5 or 6 fresh basil leaves, shredded

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients into a salad bowl, toss to combine and serve. Serves 8

Submitted by Rachael Epstein Cleveland OH

ZUCCHINI GRATIN

1 large sweet onion, sliced

olive oil

kosher salt

2 teaspoons minced garlic, minced

ground black pepper

2-3 medium zucchini

10 slices bacon

1/3 cup bread crumbs

2 large springs rosemary, minced

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cut off the ends of the zucchini and slice them lengthwise, about 1/4 of an inch thick until you have 10 slices.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet, saute the sliced onions with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and large pinch of salt until soft.  Add garlic and black pepper and saute for a couple of minutes.  Place the onions in an oven-proof dish. Season the zucchini slices with some salt and pepper.  Top each one with a slice of bacon and then layer the zucchini/bacon slices over the top of the onions in the dish. Overlap them slightly. In a bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, rosemary and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the zucchini and drizzle the top with additional olive oil.  Bake for 25 minutes. You can turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes at the end if you need the bacon slices aren’t totally crisp.

Modified from epicurious.com

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